Harrison was born on 1 August 1913 to a poor, working class Yorkshire family. Despite this, hew as to win a rare scholarship to Jesus College, Oxford, where he read history and modern languages. His favourite language was Spanish and, as a labour of love, he translated Lope de Vega’s play "Fuenteovejuna", and it was performed at London’s left-wing Unity Theatre. Whilst it was at university that he joined the CPGB.
During the war he worked at the government’s Caversham monitoring service, a BBC listening station. Then he was posted to Cairo posting, where he listened to broadcasts from the Balkans, and met his wife Gina, a Croat.
In the post war period, the Party sent him to Prague to work at the Telepress agency. Czech security forces were to close this down and Harrison and his wife were exiled for six months to the Bohemian forests. There, he recalled learning a great deal about gathering and cooking mushrooms! Eventually, they returned to Britain. (Gina worked at Collet’s, the left-wing bookshop in Charing Cross Road, and subsequently left the CPGB over the 1956 Soviet intervention in Hungary.)
Harrison became a sub editor on the Morning Star in 1951. He worked closely with Allen Hutt, the legendary chief sub-editor, who repeatedly won the Daily Worker the annual newspaper design award – usually with pages that Harrison had worked on. In 1966 he succeeded Hutt as chief sub-editor and served in this capacity until 1979. Harrison helped to train a generation of radical journalists – most of whom who moved on to other things. In 1974, he wrote "Poor Men’s Guardians", a study of the struggle for a democratic newspaper press from 1763-1973.
Post-retirement, he was for a time the London correspondent of an Athens socialist newspaper. Later, the couple left Highbury, in north London, (where Harrison used to go swimming with Jack Straw in the open-air pool) and settled in Brighton. Gina became active in the local Labour Party and Harrison edited the bulletin of Brighton and Hove Democratic Left, although he continued to support the Morning Star. He and his wife were involved in raising money and campaigned for the people of Bosnia, which they had kept an interest in, disintegrated, as Yugoslavia disintegrated. Harrison became an open-air speaker in his 70s to oppose the Falklands’ and the Gulf wars. He was 86 when he died on December 26th 2000.
Sources: Guardian 12th February 2001; Morning Star January 3rd 2001